Washington (CNN) - They aren't yet headed to Iowa or New Hampshire, but two Republicans getting early presidential buzz will soon be making political stops in key battleground states.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the subject of much 2012 chatter among Republican insiders in recent months, will travel to neighboring Ohio on Thursday to join gubernatorial candidate John Kasich for an interactive webcast focusing on the "the need to attract businesses and make Ohio competitive again."
"Governor Daniels is an innovative leader and, as a result, Indiana has weathered and recovered from the recession in a manner that is the envy of its neighbors, particularly Ohio," said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. "John's honored to have his support and looks forward to hearing more about his work next week in Cleveland."
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who also seen his name floated as a potential White House contender, is crossing the Potomac on July 28 to headline a reception for the Republican Party of Virginia in the Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean.
Washington (CNN) - A Republican lawmaker said Friday that senators should ask all judicial nominees about their views on the Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms.
Speaking at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, singled out Elena Kagan for special scrutiny. President Obama nominated Kagan for the Supreme Court on Monday.
"One of the biggest threats that I think that we face going forward," Thune told the gathering of gun rights supporters, "is when it comes to appointments to the federal courts."
Thune told the activists that, in his opinion, confirming judges to the federal courts was "one of the most awesome responsibilities" that senators have.
"We need to make sure that as United States senators we take that responsibility very seriously. And we need to ask appointees, nominees to the federal courts – including Elena Kagan – what is her view on the Second Amendment? How is she going to make decisions?"
Washington (CNN) - They were key players in Sunday's health care vote. Now a group of Washington lawmakers hope to be just as pivotal on the basketball court as they face off Wednesday night in an annual charity game against Georgetown University Law Center faculty.
Among the members of the 12-man congressional "Hill's Angels" team are Democratic Reps. Michael Arcuri of New York, John Boccieri of Ohio, Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, and Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, whose votes were heavily courted in the run-up to the late Sunday night vote.
House Democrats hold an overwhelming majority on the team, but the roster does include two Republicans, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Thune co-chairs the squad with Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
The lawmakers narrowly defeated the Georgetown professors 48 to 42 in last year's game, in which Flake, Kratovil, and Thune were top scorers.
Proceeds from the 23rd annual "Home Court" match-up benefit a D.C.-area homeless program.
Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney, who has racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles over the last year assisting Republican candidates, will make perhaps his most high-profile stop of the 2010 election cycle later this month when he travels to South Dakota to raise money for Sen. John Thune.
Romney will headline a fundraiser for Thune - another telegenic Republican on the list of potential 2012 White House candidates - at a Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls on Feb. 19, a Romney aide told CNN.
With a flurry of campaign stops and financial assistance, Romney put his stamp on the three biggest GOP victories of the last year: the Virginia and New Jersey governors races and the special Senate election in Massachusetts.
The presidential buzz around Thune has grown louder over the last year thanks to a visit to Iowa, a new position in the Senate GOP leadership and a 2010 campaign war chest that keeps growing despite the lack of a serious Democratic challenger. Thune ended 2009 with more than $6 million in the bank.
"After grueling Senate elections in 2002 and 2004, Sen. Thune has learned not to take any chances and to always be prepared," said Thune campaign manager Justin Brasell. "At $100/ticket this event is as much about generating enthusiasm and volunteer sign ups as it is about raising money. We want our entire Republican ticket to win in South Dakota this cycle from the Senate and Gubernatorial races on down, and this event will be a great way to kick off the election year."
The fundraiser was first reported by the National Journal.
Washington (CNN) – On the same day that the Senate is expected to vote on a massive spending bill, a Republican senator says the best approach to getting the federal government’s finances in order is to begin reducing spending.
“You’ve got to start there,” Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Republicans share some of the blame,” Thune told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “When we were in charge [of Congress and the White House] we didn’t control spending well enough either.”
But Thune added that Republicans in the last eight years looked like cheapskates compared to the spending going on under Democrats now.
Democrats “have their foot on the pedal,” Thune said Sunday. “I mean this thing is – they’re driving this thing over a cliff and somebody’s got to put the brakes on.”
“We can’t continue to borrow and spend at this rate,” added Thune.
(CNN) - The first Republican statement reacting to President Obama's speech arrives.
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, sounds what will likely be a common Republican theme:
"Announcing an arbitrary withdrawal deadline before these troops even set foot in Afghanistan undercuts their efforts and calls our resolve into question," says Thune.
(CNN) - For the federal government, this has been the year of spending dangerously.
The danger lies not just in the staggering volume of money being thrown around by the administration and Democrat-controlled Congress. It lies as well in their choices about how that money is being used and their apparent lack of concern that their spending splurge is unsustainable.
Just this past fiscal year alone, which ended in October, the federal government has racked up a staggering deficit of $1.4 trillion, tripling the previous record. And it has done so in part through moves like buying an ownership stake in hundreds of banks, an insurance company, two automakers and numerous other businesses.
A little over a year ago, Congress created the Troubled Asset Relief Program to try to stabilize plummeting financial markets
Sen. Thune talks to CNN Radio’s Bob Costantini:
Washington (CNN) - He walks through Washington's Reagan National Airport, arriving as he does nearly every Monday from a weekend home in South Dakota. He makes his way unnoticed.
But John Thune's anonymity may not last forever.
He is a Republican on the rise: a freshman senator who is already a member of the GOP leadership.
As head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, Thune runs the weekly strategy session where all Senate Republicans try to find consensus on the best way to challenge President Obama and the Democratic majority.
"It's probably the most candid assessment that we have in a given week," Thune said, riding the subway to the Tuesday lunch.
With just 40 Republicans in the Senate now, Thune insists that there is still a diversity of GOP views - but one that he argues must be expanded.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The hotly debated issue of gun control took center stage on Capital Hill Tuesday as key Senate Democrats bickered over a controversial proposal that would allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines.
The measure, drafted by South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, would require each of the 48 states that currently allow concealed firearms to honor permits issued in other states.
Supporters of the measure argue it would help deter criminals; opponents claim it would endanger innocent people by effectively forcing most of the country to conform to regulations in states with the loosest gun ownership standards.
The issue has blurred Capitol Hill's usual partisan lines. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is one of several Southern and Western Democrats supporting the measure. Others Democrats oppose it.
The full Senate is set to vote on it Wednesday in the form of an amendment to a larger defense appropriations bill.